I’m here to assure you that Treating Tension Myositis Syndrome can be healed. I get it that it seems impossible that your brain could cause so much pain, or so many uncomfortable symptoms, but our brains our powerful and will try and protect us at all costs.
Treating TMS is simple, but not easy. It takes time and repetition for most people, as it did for me. We have to learn to respond differently to our pain and to other stressors in our lives. We have to change our default reactions from fear to safety. Many people have done it including myself, and you can too!
Understanding Pain Education
Understanding the pain education is important when we are learning how to treat and heal from chronic pain because when it comes to Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) there is nothing that we need to change or fix. There is nothing physically wrong. No more doctors, no more physical therapy no more nutritionists; this is what I mean by there is nothing we need to change or fix.
You don’t have to work so hard anymore. You can take a breath. It’s just that our primitive brain, or unconscious is in charge and is keeping us in preoccupation with our pain, fatigue, or any other TMS symptoms we may have. Our brain is running on automatic.
TMS, also called Neuroplastic Pain, or Mind Body Pain, is when there is nothing wrong with the body, but the brain is signaling pain. The brain is just making a mistake. Our brains are always trying to keep us safe, and pain keeps us safe.
When we sprain an ankle or touch a hot burner pain keeps us from further injury. Sometimes the brain will signal pain as if there is something wrong with the body, when there actually is nothing wrong.
Understanding The Symptoms
Chronic Pain is not the only symptom of TMS. Preoccupation with loved ones, worry about what other people think, perfectionism, ruminating about the past; all these things are symptoms of Neuroplastic Pain because they are all designed to keep us safe. Because of how we were wired usually as children, our primitive brain believes that these symptoms keep us safe, and will do anything to keep is in this fear/pain/fear cycle. As long as the fear brain is in charge, we will have these symptoms.
In the case of TMS, the pain is just a false warning signal. We can disregard it. But our fear brain is in charge, it is in the driver’s seat and is on high alert, so it produces pain to warn us and keep us safe, but we are already safe. It’s just a false warning.
Kids that feel safe don’t have this chronic issue. Their rational brain is in charge most of the time, and their fear brain takes over mostly only when there is a real danger. After the danger is resolved they go out of fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode and their rational brain
takes over again.
With kids that feel chronically unsafe, their primitive brain is in charge most of the time. The brain gets kicked into fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode and after a while it just stays there. It doesn’t turn off. They don’t have near the access to their rational brain. The rational brain takes a back seat.
When the fear brain is in charge and is in fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode, we become hyper vigilant. Things seem bigger than they really are. Everything seems really important. It interprets things as dangerous when they are safe. We take life too seriously. It sends out false warnings, and we react to the false alarm by fighting, fleeing, freezing, or fawning. We scare ourselves.
When we fight, we resist. We don’t want it. We grapple with it. When we flee, we run from the pain or whatever it is we are afraid of. It might be thoughts or feelings. When we freeze, we are numb, not feeling, or not in our own experience. When we fawn, we become small, lesser; we people please.
In order to treat and heal from TMS, we need to get our brains out of fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode and teach our brains how to live in the peace and calm.
Understanding How To Heal From TMS
To treat and heal from chronic pain we must calm down the fear brain. In order to calm it down we have to be aware of the fact that it is in a high alert state, or in fight or flight.
Awareness Is The First Step In Healing From Chronic Pain
In order to heal from chronic pain we must be aware of what are brain is doing before we can slow it down. We can only get control over it when we are aware of it. We must practice awareness.
5 Steps To Awareness
- Breathing Techniques
- Somatic Tracking
- Inner Child Work
Having a daily practice of some or all of the above techniques can get you well on your way to gaining awareness and obtaining some control over your primitive brain. Working these techniques with an energy of ease and lightness is best. We don’t have to do them perfectly. A few minutes of awareness practice a day adds up.
I have used all of the above techniques over the years. Deep breathing is one of my favorites and you can find a lot of breathing techniques on YouTube. I recommend short practices such as this deep breathing exercise by Calm. Short practices are sustainable. It’s just taking a short pause in your day to get centered, or grounded.
This 5 minute “noticing” meditation is a great way to get out of your head and into your body so you can feel more relaxed.
I have been journaling for years to help myself become more aware of my thoughts, feelings, reactions, and responses. Five minutes of writing down whatever comes to mind each day was so important for me to be able to see my fear brain on paper. Journaling served as a gateway to my rational brain.
Somatic Tracking is probably the most used and helpful tool for reducing or eliminating the fear over our pain sensations. It’s also used for emotional awareness. This podcast called “Tell Me About Your Pain” is the one that I have listened to many times to help me understand somatic tracking and practice it on myself.
Inner Child Work
Treating Tension Myositis syndrome, or healing from it, is like a reparenting process. I consider my unconscious mind or my fear brain my inner child. As children most of us who deal with chronic pain were conditioned to perceive life through a lens of danger which happened through adverse childhood experiences.
Inner child work is like working with this part of our brain and reparenting it so that it now realizes it is now safe indeed, and can actually feel safe. I feel the best way to do this is by making a daily practice of talking to and comforting your child self through visualization. It takes practice to get used to doing this, but it is very powerful, and extremely healing.
A Pain Free Life
We can slow down the fear brain by doing the daily practices above and learn how to respond to the false alarms with greater ease. Just knowing that it’s a false alarm makes it not scary. We know it’s safe. We just notice it, we’re curious about it, and we have compassion for the fear brain, the inner child that is suffering and now the rational brain starts to take over.
The more we keep recognizing that the fear brain is sending out false alarms and that there really is no danger, the fear will start to dissipate and send out fewer false alarms. They become fewer and fewer, and the rational brain is in charge most of the time. Now the fear brain only takes over when there is a true 911 danger. It doesn’t send out too many false alarms. After the danger is resolved the brain goes out of fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode and the rational brain is back in charge.
Once the rational brain is in charge we have choices, and we can now choose how we respond to the threats in our lives. We begin to choose our best life instead of our default life. this is how we heal from TMS and how we change our default from responding with fear, to responding with ease and safety, which sends safety signals instead of danger signals to our brains, turning down pain.
How do you want your life to be?
Read my post “Self-Care, The Cure for TMS?” to learn more about how to treat and heal TMS.
For more information about Pain Coaching with Stacey please click here.